The era of wellness and conscious living is upon us. People regardless of age are taking steps to better their health and pursue an active lifestyle. The female fitness industry is at the forefront of the wellness movement. More women are taking up exercises that challenge the stereotypes about a women’s physical strength. There has been a surge in interest in boxing, Crossfit and body building among women. Strong is the new sexy and pushing your limits is the goal. Below we look at various aspects of growth in this sector.
Boutique gyms are on the rise. The fitness industry is seeing growth in gyms catering to woman with the aim of helping them feel more comfortable while working out. The FPC gym in New York provides programmes for pregnant women and new moms. The workouts assist pregnant woman stay active and help mothers recover after giving birth. In the Middle East, conservative Saudi Arabia has started issuing licenses for female-only gyms to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Locally, a pop up gym founded by Letshego Zulu and Khethiwe Mlangeni aims to show woman they can turn any environment into a workout space. The duo also hosts events in collaboration with local fitness influencer Mapule Ndhlovu.
Co-author of the Club 2020 report, Greg Skloot, reports that the younger generation is not in favour of an annual gym membership commitment, so more and more clubs are expected to start offering pay-as-you-go options.
Brands connecting with woman
Allied Market research has found that the global generated revenue for female sportswear is expected to reach a total of $184.6 billion by 2020. Big sportswear brands are not only competing with their traditional corporate rivals but with small businesses which are shifting the ways brands connect with female customers.
The use of social media is still the winner in building a loyal, fit community. The @nikewoman instagram account blends fitness elements with lifestyle photography while the @reebokwoman page encourages strength and determination. Nike has built its female consumer base through campaigns such as the #betterforit challenge which encouraged woman to share their fitness goals.
Locally, Nike South Africa hosted a Believe in More event which was in line with its global campaign. The event saw the likes of South Africa’s golden athlete Caster Semenya and professional trainer Zaakirah Khalek lead workouts while participants were encouraged to share their training stories using #nikewoman and #believemore.
A less visible brand like Under Armour celebrated women pushing the boundaries in a variety of sport categories. Its Unlike Any campaign featured professional dancer Misty Copeland (embed link: ) and alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn, among many others.
Above: Nike #betterforit campaign
The female fitness industry aims to empower woman of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Thus, embracing body positivity is a must for brands. Plus-size model Candice Huffine has launched a size-inclusive active wear brand Day/Won, while Nike and Nova have extended their clothing sizes to include woman of all sizes. In 2017 Nike worked with body positivity activist and blogger Grace Victory on a new collection. Athleta’s approach to inclusive marketing is to broaden its age range. The brand features middle-aged active females in campaigns and pushes the body positivity movement by working with fit and curvy sportswomen such as female surfer Bo Stanley .